Vulture reports that four episodes of “30 Rock” are being removed from streaming services and syndication due to containing blackface. The episodes have been made unavailable on Hulu and Amazon Prime and can no longer be purchased on iTunes and Google Play. The move came at the request of series co-creator Tina Fey and NBCUniversal, who own the rights to the series.
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” Fey said in a letter to the platforms that streamed or sold the show. “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request.”
IndieWire confirmed Vulture’s report with NBCUniversal.
“30 Rock” isn’t the only show containing blackface to make news in recent weeks. Hollywood companies, in response to ongoing protests and conversations about systemic racism and racist portrayals of Black people in entertainment media, have made moves to de-platform some of its racially-insensitive material in recent weeks.
Netflix recently removed an episode of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ “W/ Bob & David” sketch show that contained blackface, and the streaming service also removed the entire “Little Britain” series, which featured several instances of blackface.
Hollywood is undergoing a period of heightened scrutiny regarding racial insensitivity due to the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minnesota who was killed by a white police officer in late May, as well as several other recent examples of police brutality. Paramount Network recently cancelled its long-running reality series “Cops,” while A&E Networks recently axed “Live PD.”
“30 Rock” reemerged in the headlines for controversy-free reasons. The show is returning to NBC with a hour-long special on July 16. Most of the original cast will return for the one-off special, which is being billed as an upfront event to promote NBCUniversal’s talent and upcoming television series.